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Daily News Analysis 20-08-2015

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

ESSENCE OF THE ARTICLE

1.         

 

NSA talks on track: officials (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     Official said the recent series of provocations from across the border will not derail the talks between NSA Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz, scheduled for August 23 and 24.

2.

India accepts invitation to victory parade in Beijing (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     Ending weeks of speculation, India has accepted Chinas invitation to a military parade in Beijing on September 3 to celebrate the end of World War II.

3.

Mullah Omar: a myth of convenience (Page 10)

a)     International

a)    The dismantling of the Mullah Omar myth was expected to create some fragmentation in the jihadi networks but the fracturing is proving to be difficult than anticipated (as events in Afghanistan show), following the US taking a back seat in the region.

4.

Ranil warns against divisive politics (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Sri Lankas United National Party leader and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said his government would not allow anyone to indulge in divisive politics.

5.

Yuan makes its first market move (Page 11)

a)     International

b)     Economy

a)     Chinas desire to be a world economic leader is legitimate, but too tight an embrace of global finance could kill the very stability that has marked the countrys rapid ascent.

6.

Germany gives yes to Greek bailout (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Germanys Parliament strongly approved a third bailout for Greece, removing a key hurdle to providing new loans to the country and keeping it from defaulting on its debts in as little as 24 hours.

7.

IS beheads 82-year-old archaeologist of Palmyra (Page14)

a)     International

a)     The Islamic State group has beheaded the 82-year-old retired chief archaeologist of Palmyra, who refused to leave the ancient city when the jihadists captured it.

8.

Govt treads warily on RTE Act amendments (Page 13)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     The Centre has decided to adopt the slower but more safer route of getting written demands from all State govts before amending the RTE 2009, to revoke the no-detention provision in elementary school (till Class VIII) despite the unanimous outcry for its revocation.

9.

India Post, 10 others get nod for payments banks (Pages 1 and 15)

a)     Economy

a)     The Reserve Bank of India gave approval in principle for 11 entities to set up payments banks.

10.

Early experiments with technology (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     S&T

a)     The Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (Indias first attempt to use technology as an educational tool) celebrates its 40th anniversary this month.

 

S.NO.

NEWS ITEM

SYLLUBUS

BACKGROUND

IMPORTANT POINTS

1.         

 

NSA talks on track: officials (Pages 1 and 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – Pakistan relations

b)     Border disputes

c)     Hurriyat conference

d)     Kashmir issue

e)     Terrorism

a)     Official said the recent series of provocations from across the border will not derail the talks between NSA Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz, scheduled for Aug 23 and 24.

b)     They were reacting to Pakistans invitation of Kashmiri separatist leaders to a reception hosted for Aziz at the Pak High Commission on Aug 23. After a meeting of Hurriyat leadership in Srinagar, the chairpersons of moderate and hard-line factions confirmed their acceptance of the invitation, and added that the Hurriyat supports the India-Pakistan talks.

c)     Since the last formal talks with Pakistan in 2012, India has added 15 new names to a fresh list of fugitives to be handed over to neighbouring country during the NSA-level talks scheduled on Aug 23. India has also prepared a 1000-page dossier on Udhampur attack accused Mohammad Naved, which will be shared with Pak.

d)     India has also formulated a strategy to dismiss any comparison between Samjhauta Express blast and the Mumbai terror attack citing the role of state actors in latter incident.

e)     Official said deportation of Dawood Ibrahim and speedy trial in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case are some of the key issues to be raised by NSA Ajit Doval with his counterpart Sartaj Aziz during the talks.

2.

India accepts invitation to victory parade in Beijing (Page 12)

a)     I.R

a)     India – China relations

b)     India – Japan relations

c)     World War II

d)     1952 Peace Treaty

e)     International Military Tribunal

 

 

a)     Ending weeks of speculation, India has accepted Chinas invitation to a military parade in Beijing on Sept 3 to celebrate end of World War II.

b)     China has invited the US, the UK, Germany, Russia, even Japan and other nations to the parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary celebrations of what it calls the victory of the anti-fascist forces.

c)     India was cautious in accepting invitation, weighing in consequences on its bilateral ties with Japan. Relations between India and Japan have been strengthened over time, even after the war when the International Military Tribunal (for the Far Easts trials of Japanese war crimes committed during the WW-II) was set up.

d)    India submitted a judgment which said the defendants were not guilty. India also did not sign the 1952 peace treaty, opting to sign a separate peace treaty with Japan; so Tokyo and New Delhi have an independent relationship.

3.

Mullah Omar: a myth of convenience (Page 10)

a)     International

a)     Taliban

b)     Taliban – Afghan government peace talks

c)     Afghanistan situation

d)     Afghanistan – Pakistan relations

e)     Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)

f)     Tehreek-i- Taliban Pakistan (TTP)

g)     Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)

a)    Mullah Omar emerged on Afghan scene in 1994 (leading the Taliban) to free Kandahar of factional warlords and open up the road from Spin Boldak on Pakistan-Afghanistan border to Kandahar, and later, on to Herat. His military success surprised even his ISI sponsors.  Thus began the exercise in myth-making.

b)    In 1996, Mullah Omar took on title of Amir ul Mumineen (Commander of the Faithful) when he donned the cloak of Prophet before a large assembly of Afghans in Kandahar. It enhanced his legitimacy to lead the jihad against the regime of Afghanistan President Burhanuddin Rabbani. The endorsement of his new title by the al-Qaeda, added to the myth.

c)     His statements strongly opposed US and foreign presence in Afghanistan, were critical of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, maintained ambivalence about Talibans political office, based in Doha (Qatar) and declined to anoint a successor. All this coincided perfectly with the ISI agenda and Mullah Omars legend continued to grow.

d)     Both Pakistans former military ruler (General Pervez Musharraf) and General Ashfaq Kayani (his successor as army chief) had a healthy dislike for Karzais Pashtun nationalism. Even though cracks were emerging within the Taliban as Karzais High Peace Council chaired by Rabbani continued to reach out to those willing to talk, episodic statements from Mullah Omar troubled the process and maintained a front of Taliban unity. In December 2011, Rabbani was killed by a suicide bomber for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.

e)     A power struggle in Taliban was underway since 2012 when Mullah Akhtar Mansour tried to expel Mullah Abdul Qayum Zakir from his position of military commander but failed. Hardliners led by Mullah Abdul Rauf Khadim (a former Guantanamo Bay detainee) were attracted by the emergence of the IS which gradually occupied large areas of territory in Iraq and then in Syria, with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi establishing a caliphate and posing a direct challenge to Mullah Omar.

f)     Meanwhile, the emergence of regional shuras like the Miranshah shura led by Jalaluddin Haqqanis son (Sirajuddin) and the Peshawar shura led by Qari Baryal and Mullah Abdul Latif also weakened Mullah Omars Quetta shura.

g)     The year 2014 marked a transition year in Afghanistan. The US ended its combat role and President Ashraf Ghani took over from Karzai after a controversial election. In Pakistan, its Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb against elements of the TTP and the IMU.

h)     Ghani needed to ensure stability and realised that it could only happen with the ISIs cooperation. Hence the overtures to Pakistan - his much publicised call on Gen. Sharif at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi during his two-day official visit to Pakistan in Nov 2014, the withdrawal of request for Indian military hardware, sending Afghan military officers for training, handing over of TTP leader Latifullah Mehsud, and a cooperation agreement between intelligence agencies - in return for the ISIs support for a peace process with the Taliban.

i)     Chinese backing for the process became evident when a round of secret talks was held between Afghan envoys and Taliban representatives in the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi (and facilitated by Pakistan) before the Murree meeting but there was no let-up in the Taliban offensive. Mullah Akhtar Mansour (who is close to ISI) was managing dialogue but it needed legitimacy.

j)     Hence the Ramzan endorsement attributed to Mullah Omar but it proved to be too much for those who were opposed to the talks and felt offended that Mullah Omars myth was being shamelessly exploited. The myth was no longer useful and dismantling it had become necessary. The only way out was to acknowledge Mullah Omars death and get Mullah Mansour anointed the new leader.

k)     Under the circumstances, the next round of talks with the Afghan authorities has been postponed even as Mansour tries to consolidate his support base with help from the ISI and the Haqqani group. The dismantling of the Mullah Omar myth was expected to create some fragmentation in the jihadi networks but the fracturing is proving to be messier than anticipated.

l)     Ghani was losing patience and had conveyed his unhappiness to Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, questioning Pakistans commitment to the dialogue. Ghani demanded that the Quetta shura be put under house arrest, restrictions placed on the sale of fertilizer in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas region to prevent its diversion for bomb making, counter-terrorism operations extended against the Haqqani network, and condemnation of Taliban spring offensive, etc.

4.

Ranil warns against divisive politics (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Sri Lankas internal issues

b)     United National Party (UNP)

c)     Tamil National Alliance (TNA)

a)    Sri Lankas UNP leader and PM Wickremesinghe said his govt would not allow anyone to indulge in divisive politics.

b)     He said the govt would arrive at a consensus and build a framework through which we will do our politics. There would be district development coordination boards (headed by lawmakers) to carry out decentralised development. Besides, the country would have Gram Rajya committees. Members of civil society would be included in advisory councils.

c)    TNA will support the UNP, which has emerged as the single largest party in the Parliament election in Sri Lanka.

5.

Yuan makes its first market move (Page 11)

a)     International

b)     Economy

a)     Chinas currency devaluation

b)     Peoples Bank of China (PBOC)

c)     International Monetary Fund (IMF)

d)     Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)

e)     Currency war

f)     Global depression

g)     Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

h)     Chinas One Belt One Road project

a)     China sprang a surprise on world markets last week. The Chinese currency renminbi (less formally known as yuan) lost its value against the US dollar by nearly 3 percent between Aug 11 and 13. This was its sharpest weekly fall in over 2 decades. With the devaluation, Chinas manufactured products are going to get cheaper.

b)     The devaluation announcement came within days of Chinas export figures for July recording a negative growth, due mainly to the slow pickup in demand from developed-country markets. Some commentators argued that the Chinese action might cause a new global currency war (where other countries too devalue their currencies to compete with China) as had happened during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

c)     The PBOC (Chinas central bank) soon stepped in to clarify. It said that the devaluation marked the transition to a flexible, more market-based system of determining Chinas exchange rates. In contrast, the system that existed until now was one in which the value of Chinese currency (especially in relation to the US dollar) had largely been fixed by the govt.

d)     If PBOCs claims are true, it is likely to be a component of a larger, national strategy to internationalise the renminbi. China wants to see the renminbi emerge as a currency for international trade and finance, like the dollar. It also plans to build Shanghai into a global financial centre, rivalling New York. As a preliminary step, China is trying to get renminbi included in basket of currencies in IMFs SDR. IMF has set a precondition that China should remove restrictions on foreign capital flows and shift to a flexible exchange rate system. Expectedly, the IMF welcomed PBOCs announcement.

e)     It is to be noted that China has had strict controls on foreign capital movements across its borders, at least until recently. Such controls have been effective in filtering out volatile, short-term capital flows, which are often harmful to the economy, while at the same time encouraging FDI. In contrast, India has (over the years) liberalised its capital account substantially, attracting relatively large volumes of short-term capital flows.

f)     Chinas remarkably fast export-led economic growth during the 2000s occurred in an enabling environment provided by a stable exchange rate and tight capital controls. In fact, the stability in Chinas currency rate has been a factor that helped other East Asian economies to achieve steady and fast growth.

g)    However, all this has come at a cost. To maintain a stable exchange rate, China has been investing a significant part of its foreign exchange earnings in US treasury bonds, despite their very low returns. Thus, China has been effectively transferring a share of its hard-earned savings to US. This has fuelled consumption demand in the US, helping it overcome the problems caused by trade and government-budget deficits.

h)     Chinas strategy to break free of its mutually dependent relationship with the US has multiple points. One, China aims to derive its future growth more from domestic markets and services rather than from exports of cheap manufactured goods. Two, China is trying to strategically deploy its large foreign exchange assets into initiatives such as AIIB and   ambitious One Belt One Road project. It would also like to replace dollar-zone in East Asia with a viable renminbi zone.

i)     Chinas economic and investment growth has slowed down in recent months. It has flowed billions of dollars into investments in infrastructure and other basic industries, especially after the 2008 global economic downturn. But this has not been matched by rising demand for these industries (either domestic or foreign), leading to the creation of excess capacities. The slowdown in China is threatening economic prospects in many other parts of the world too, particularly in countries that are suppliers of commodities to China.

j)     In these trying times, what China should perhaps do is to implement policies that favour real wage increases and greater income distribution, thereby boosting domestic consumer demand. Chinas claims to a leadership role in the world economy are legitimate. But in staking these claims, it should avoid getting into a deeper embrace with global finance.

k)     Meanwhile, India has a large trade deficit with China, accounting for as much as a quarter of Indias overall trade deficit. With the devaluation of the yuan, imports from China are going to climb up, worsening Indias deficit.

l)     The continuing stagnation in demand for Chinese goods (especially from developed countries) underlines the importance of domestic markets for economic growth in India as well. Therefore, like China, India too needs policies that enable better employment creation, greater redistribution of incomes, and rejuvenation in domestic demand.

6.

Germany gives yes to Greek bailout (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Greek debt crisis

a)     Germanys Parliament strongly approved a third bailout for Greece, removing a key hurdle to providing new loans to the country and keeping it from defaulting on its debts in as little as 24 hours.

b)     The approval is among the last due from parliaments across Europe after which Greece is expected to get the first instalment of its new 86 billion euro ($95 billion) loans package. The country needs the cash to make a debt repayment.

7.

IS beheads 82-year-old archaeologist of Palmyra (Page 14)

a)     International

a)     Islamic State (IS)

b)     Syria and Iraq crisis

c)     Palmyra

d)     UNESCO World Heritage sites

 

 

a)     The Islamic State group has beheaded the 82-year-old retired chief archaeologist of Palmyra, who refused to leave the ancient city when the jihadists captured it.

b)  A UNESCO World Heritage site famed for well-preserved Greco-Roman ruins, Palmyra was seized from government forces in May amid fears IS might destroy its priceless heritage as it had done in other parts of Syria and Iraq.

8.

Govt treads warily on RTE Act amendments (Page 13)

a)     National

b)     Polity

a)     Right to Education Act (RTE)

b)     Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE)

c)     Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE)

a)    Centre has decided to adopt the slower but more safer route of getting written demands from all State govts before amending RTE 2009, to revoke the no-detention provision in elementary school (till Class VIII) despite the unanimous outcry for its revocation.

b)     Some States want the no-detention policy to be revoked in one go though the CABE Committee on Assessment and Implementation of CCE in the context of the No-Detention Provision under the RTE Act is in favour of having such a provision till Class V.

9.

India Post, 10 others get nod for payments banks (Pages 1 and 15)

a)     Economy

a)     Payments banks

b)     Financial inclusion

c)     RBI

a)     The RBI gave approval in principle for 11 entities to set up payments banks.

b)     Payments banks will take deposits and remittances, but will not advance loans.

c)     The RBI said all selected applicants had the reach and the technological and financial strength to service previously-excluded customers across the country.

d)     Finance Minister said this would not only ensure that money was brought into the banking system, but also enable banks to reach out to more people in rural areas.

10.

Early experiments with technology (Page 11)

a)     National

b)     S&T

a)     Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE)

b)     Indo-US Space partnership

c)     NASA

d)     ISRO

e)     Indian National Satellite System (INSAT)

a)     The Satellite Instructional Television Experiment celebrated the 40th anniversary of its launch on August 1. US developed the technology for a powerful direct broadcasting satellite using a large 9-metre antenna but had little use for it in a country already saturated with TV coverage.

b)     India needed to take the reach of a communication network to rural areas. SITE was where Indias need intersected with American technology, where its problems found a solution.

c)     Marking the first major India-US partnership in space, SITE used NASAs first direct broadcasting satellite to beam television programmes to remote Indian villages.  Antennae measuring 3 metres, a far cry from todays DTH dish antennae, were used to receive signals.

d)     In 1975, when television was a rarity even in urban India, TV sets for community viewing were set up in schools or Panchayat centres in 2400 villages in six States - Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan.

e)     SITE incorporated ISROs commitment to an application-oriented approach where technology would be used to solve the real problems of the country. The choice of the areas and the villages for TV sets was indicative of its dedication to use technology to help the most disadvantaged.

f)     SITE used a foreign satellite, but the hardware (like the earth stations for uplinking programmes to the satellite; the TV sets; and the special direct-reception equipment) was designed and made in India.  Maintaining television sets and sophisticated equipment in remote areas posed extraordinary challenges, as did the involvement of many organisations and State govts.

g)     SITE was intended as an experiment that would provide inputs for an operational system, and indeed resulted in much learning that proved invaluable for the INSAT.

h)     SITE had been preceded (in 1969) by the launch of Krishi Darshan, a programme on agriculture broadcast using community TV sets to 80 villages around Delhi on Doordarshan.

i)     The hypothesis that communication (television in particular) could lead to the adoption of new agricultural practices was first tested through Krishi Darshan with success. SITE further tested and validated the feasibility of direct television reception in remote areas, culminating in an operational system.

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